Affordable Travel Guide to Accommodations

Where to Stay When You Travel

Accommodations

From the hedonism of a five-star downtown luxury hotel penthouse suite to the stillness of a solitary beachside tent, Affordable Travel will help you find the hotel accommodations that ensure sweet dreams and gentleness on your travel budget. Since we spend one-third of our lives asleep, accommodations are an integral part of our travels, but it’s more than that; when you are away from the comfort and familiarity of your own bed and home surroundings, there is an inherent need to feel at ease, safe and calm.

By combining great accommodations with budget-friendly pricing, you can sleep and not go broke in the process. Now, that’s sweet dreams! We’ve explored the world of accommodations, and we know that you need more than just a bed (or spot to unroll your sleeping bag!); you need an environment that meets you requirements, at minimum, and your dreams at best. We have assembled a collection of stay-over options for you in our accommodations section, and we’ve broken them up into accommodations sub-categories to make them easy to locate.

You may be in search of cheap hotel accommodations, or perhaps you’re more in the mood for a suite at the Plaza Hotel; we can help locate the place you want and need to rest for the night. This hotel search list of accommodations and detailed notes about each place will continue to grow as we explore the world’s accommodations and report back.

Here are the various forms of accommodations you’ll find on www.affordabletravel.org:

  • Hotels. We define hotels as being city accommodations (hotels at beaches, for instance, would be classified as resorts).
  • Motels. Drive-in accommodations to a maximum of four levels high will fall into this classification, be they in cities or rural environments.
  • Inns. Generally, inns will comprise small hotels in cities and towns that are not the cookie-cutter room styles of hotels, and are not more than six floors high.
  • Bed-and-Breakfasts (B&Bs). Operated by the owners, usually a couple, our B&B establishments will be from one to 9 rooms and in all cases will include accommodations that include breakfast. They may be in cities, towns or in the countryside.
  • Campgrounds and Trailer Parks. Anywhere that you can pitch a tent or park a motor home counts as a campground.
  • Hostels. Spartan accommodations, usually with shared facilities like kitchens and sometimes bathrooms, hostels are geared to young travelers, but are not exclusive to them.
  • Housing Exchanges. These are unique accommodations that differ everywhere and each time you travel; all involve the swapping of your home for the home of another person when you travel to their part of the world; they are not always tit for tat, because travel plans vary.
  • Resorts. The concept of a resort falls toward the all-inclusive sensibility, and our resort accommodations will seldom be in cityscapes, mostly be at vacation destination locations, and will always include more than just a hotel room.
  • Extended Stay Hotels. Commonly found as either dedicated, furnished hotel rooms designed to handle longer term guests, or as a long-term stay in hotels that also provide single room nights, extended stay hotels are ideal for families and business travelers who need a place to stay for a period of a week or more. Many dedicated extended stay hotels require a minimum of a week, and some have up to three bedrooms; most have at the very least a kitchenette so you can save on meals.
  • Timeshares. Still popular in some areas of the world, like Mexico, timeshares enable you to “own” part of a vacation residence, be that an apartment or small house, and use it during the periods of the year you reserve, and for whatever length of time you choose. There are restrictions, of course, because other people also use your unit, but fans of timeshares say the cost savings are worth it, both in hotel charges and food.
  • Condo Rentals. Luxury for less; that’s the mantra of those who are advocates of renting condominiums for their vacation time. They are especially popular among older travelers who can predictably find condo rentals buildings that are geared to their lifestyle and age group. They’re also sensible for families who need more than one bedroom, and groups of friends. They also work very well for longer term stays.
  • Villas. Perfect for groups, romantic escapes, or several couples traveling together, villas are largely, but not exclusively, found in southern Europe, especially Italy. They have the advantage of making visitors feel like they are living the lifestyle of the locals, but without the concerns for property upkeep. It’s a win/win and once you’ve spent a few weeks in a villa in Tuscany, you may never resort to a resort again!

No matter where you stay, there are protocols that you need to follow. Why? Because every type of accommodations from campgrounds to luxury hotels have one thing in common: multiple people are in residence at any given time. Behave in the way that respects your fellow travelers so that they, in kind, respect you. Keep the noise down, especially late at night or early in the morning, and when you are walking in the corridors (voices carry!). Show common courtesy in common areas. Take your turn at check-in, check-out and at meal services.

Always remember that the staff in the hospitality industry are employees, not slaves, and many get paid the local legal minimum wage. A little courtesy goes a long way, and the more respectful you are of the staff, they better you’ll be treated. And don’t forget to leave a tip!

Here is a tipping guide for hotels, inns, motels, B&Bs (people sometimes think they can get away without tipping in smaller accommodations; not true!) and other accommodations venues:

  • tip the bellhop $2 per bag, at least; more if he or she is exceptional and helpful
  • tip the housekeeping crew $2 per night per person in the room, more if they have done something to help you or the room is super-clean, or there is a turn-down service at night
  • tip the valet parking person a minimum of $5 per day per vehicle
  • tip the server (even if breakfast is included in your room price) either 18% of the net price before taxes, or if there is no menu and no set price for the meal (or it’s included), between $3 and $5 at breakfast; if service is outstanding, tip well!
  • tip the server who delivers your meal or drinks to your room; room service people should be tipped the same as all servers

Even if you are committed to a cheap vacation, and are seeking to stay in discount hotels, the service you get will feel like a luxury hotel if you’re kind and generous to the staff. Especially in places like Mexico, the Caribbean and parts of Southeast Asia, where wages are very low, what seems like loose change to you can make a world of different to a housekeeper, server or bellman.

Before you scan individual hotel websites, read through the hotels that we have written about; you may be surprised how much you learn by using our ever-expanding hotel finder. We’ll work hard to find and report about hotel discounts and hotel coupons that enable you to stay at a higher end hotel for a budget price.

How can you ensure you get the best accommodations for cheap hotel rates? It’s almost like a cat-and-mouse game; you have to be ready to pounce when the hotel discount turns up. Here are some tips for getting the best price on accommodations:

  • book last minute if you can; conversely, with campgrounds that accept reservations, you are unlikely to even get a spot (especially on a weekend) unless you book well in advance
  • get your name on cancellation lists; hotels want and need to be full every single night, so they would rather let a cancelled room go for a lesser room rate than have it empty (this is not so much the case with small inns and B&Bs; they are afraid to discount too dramatically because their clientele is so small with many repeat customers)
  • join hotel rewards and loyalty programs, some of which may be directly connected to your airline rewards plans or your credit cards
  • be careful booking through hotel clearing houses; always check first directly with the hotel and never assume the room clearing houses offer the cheapest room rates (and they usually lock you in; there are often no refunds if your plans change, but the accommodations venues themselves are inclined to be more flexible)
  • do you have any influence with the media, such that you could write a positive hotel review for a blog, website or magazine? Some hotels will give you a free room if you can help boost their business through a popular media outlet…
  • be flexible with your travel plans, and try to ensure your stay at, for example, a Virginia Beach hotel and resort happens mid-week and off-season (if you can’t travel during the off-season periods, then aim for shoulder seasons like spring and autumn, any time that peak demand slides)
  • don’t assume that B&B accommodations are going to be the cheapest accommodations; B&Bs have come a long way from their humble beginnings and some offer the optimum in luxury stays with a room rate accordingly priced
  • if you like camping and have a friend that lives where you are planning to stay, ask if you can camp on their property; it’s worth a try!
  • stay in places that are known for their inexpensive accommodations; for example, there are Las Vegas hotel deals that will make your head spin (sometimes free if you play in their casino; you might get free meals and drinks, too!)
  • if you are planning a vacation to a place known for being expensive, you can still find hotel deals; for example, Whistler accommodations can be costly, so try one of their many good-quality hostels

Hotels and other types of accommodations are in business to make money, like any other enterprise. If you put yourself in their place and think like a hotelier (how can I fill all my rooms every night of the year?), you’ll find creative ways to get hotel discounts. Talk to them, tell them you’re traveling on a budget, have hundreds of friends who respect your recommendations, and can they help you with cheap accommodations. The general managers at inns and hotels often have the authority to discount rooms at their discretion.

It never hurts to ask, but do it on the phone and not via e-mail. That way you have them corned and they can’t respond with a glib “no” if they are speaking with you in real time.

Stick with us for the best deals on accommodations. We’ll keep you up to date on all the news you need to find the best accommodations for the lowest price. The perfect vacation or business travel balance.

A MODEL RESERVATION

Here are the top five things you should be certain of when you book accommodations for your trip:

  1. That the lodgings have your correct arrival date and time, and departure date (ensure you get written confirmation).
  2. If you book on-line, ensure you get a confirmation number.
  3. Ask for the terms of their cancellation policy and abide by that.
  4. Whether you are getting a “private” or “en suite” bathroom; there’s a difference!
  5. If the stated room rate includes breakfast, and of there are any additional charges such as outgoing telephone calls and taxes.

Explore Accommodations

Bed and Breakfast

Bed and Breakfast

Bed and Breakfast and Social Pleasure
Campgrounds

Campgrounds

An Alternative to Costly Hotel Accommodations
Condo Rentals

Condo Rentals

From Basic to Luxurious, They’re a Good Alternative
Extended Stay Hotels

Extended Stay Hotels

When You’re Traveling for the Long Run
Hostels

Hostels

Hostels Aren’t Just for the Young Any More
Hotels

Hotels

Something Beyond Just a Place to Sleep
Housing Exchanges

Housing Exchanges

Swapping Homes and Lifestyles Around the Globe
Inns

Inns

The Intimate Middle Ground in Accommodations
Motels

Motels

Drive In and Hit the Sack
Timeshares

Timeshares

Partial Ownership if You Vacation on a Schedule
Villas

Villas

An Atmosphere of Fantasy, Fully Grounded

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